Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When Your Child Hurts {and so do you}

All parents have a favorite child. Erma Bombeck describes that favorite child beautifully:

"All mothers have their favorite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there."

Parents of older children are no longer overseeing bad haircuts, failed spelling bees, stolen bicycles, unattended birthday parties and life with braces. Parents of older children see this favorite child from a mountaintop of experience. Those parents are no longer in the mist of human frality and weakness; that was just prep camp for life's real battles. The favorite child has now become a victim of his/her sins and the sins of others. Our children's infancy taught us sympathy and compassion for others. When they are grown and leave our protection, we go into combat with those who were never taught or never learned.
What can parents use as they go into war with-for their favorite child? I'm not a professional or a counselor but here's a couple things I've turned to and encourage parents not only to offer it to their "favorite" child but to seek the good for themselves as well (some things may have to be adjusted for sons and daughters as they approach things differently):
  • Make an appointment with God: Adoration Hour and prayer time
  • A trip to the confessional (hospital of mercy) might be in order.
  • Send your child text messages that affirm them, short prayers that protect them, and assurances of your love and support throughout their day.
  • Give your child books that encourage positive thinking such as: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life
  • Turn to a mother who knows how you feel, who saw her son rejected and scorned, who lost a son, a mother who stood beneath a cross and had her forehead anointed by her son's sufferings. Consecrate child and all into the hands which cared for Our Lord. Like any good grandmother, she will bring your pleas and hope to the Master. This book will serve as a guide: 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael Gaitley
  • For daughters, give her One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp along with a gratitude journal (complete with a message from mom to that favorite child).
  • Get your child reading stories of the saints, especially the saints who survived hard knocks in life and how handled them for God's glory.
  • Seek out a mentor or spiritual director for you and your child if necessary.
* * * * *
(for those wondering who that "favorite" child may be)
Erma Bombeck's "My Favorite Child"
"Every mother has a favorite child. She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine – the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand. My favorite child is the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party – who had measles at Christmas – who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in – who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward.
My favorite child spent Christmas alone away from the family, was stranded after the game with a gas tank on E, lost the money for his class ring.
My favorite child is the one who messed up at the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless.
My favorite child is the one I punished for lying, grounded for insensitivity to other people’s feelings, and informed he was a royal pain to the entire family.
My favorite child slammed the doors in frustration, cried when she didn’t think I saw her, withdrew and said she could not talk to me.
My favorite child always needed a haircut, had hair that wouldn’t curl, had no date for Saturday night, and a car that cost $600 to fix. My favorite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered, and self-centered. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in the world, and quite wonderful.
All mothers have their favorite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there."

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